Where have you seen the Chalnoth before, and what else do we know about the Star Trek species? Minor spoilers ahead for Star Trek Lower Decks episode ‘Something Borrowed, Something Green’.
Star Trek loves its huge, powerful ‘warrior species’. Throughout the Star Trek timeline, we’ve had the Klingons, Nausicaans, Jem’Hadar, and Hirogen. And there’s another too: the Chalnoth. The ongoing Star Trek series Lower Decks just brought the Chalnoth back into the fold, and even if you’ve rewatched all the Star Trek movies in order a million times and binged the series too, you’re probably wondering where we’ve seen the Chalnoth before, and what we know about them. Like anything worthwhile, it all connects back to one of the best TV series of all time: TNG.
The history of the Chalnoth in Star Trek explained
The Chalnoth are a physically imposing and aggressive race native to the planet Chalna. Captain Picard had been to the planet Chalna in the year 2354 and met the species during his command of the Stargazer, though there seemed to be no official relationship between Chalna and the Federation. Before Lower Decks season 4 the Chalnoth had only appeared in Star Trek once, with an individual named Esoqq playing a major role in the TNG season 3 episode ‘Allegiance’.
In the episode, in the year 2366, Captain Picard, Esoqq, and other non-human individuals are abducted by a mysterious and technologically advanced group of aliens. The aliens trap the abducted group of characters in a locked room in order to learn about each of their species by studying their responses to pressure. To do so, tension and paranoia are artificially manufactured to make the group distrust each other. Esoqq, most of all, lacks patience and wants to use violence and force to overcome his captivity: at one point, he even threatens to eat the others when his access to food is restricted.
Ultimately, though, Esoqq isn’t evil or villainous, despite his intimidating stature (and Star Trek really is all about seeing beyond preconceptions and prejudices). It’s the nature of his species to be aggressive, and the situation was specifically engineered to bring out his most extreme instincts and tendencies. Since Esoqq and ‘Allegiance’, the Chalnoth hadn’t returned to Star Trek canon until the new episode of Lower Decks.
What else do we know about the Chalnoth?
The Chalnoth mostly remain a mystery, though with their return to Lower Decks we have a few more clues about their society and history. Mainly, the interaction between Freeman and the Chalnoth captain demonstrates that since the events of ‘Alliegance’ Starfleet has had more contact with the Chalnoth, and the two factions appear to know more about each other, having developed an uneasy truce.
Additionally, while ‘Allegiance’ only showed the violent side of the Chalnoth, Lower Decks added more nuance to their society and culture. We now know they have a keen interest in science and discovery, and tensions rise between the USS Cerritos and a Chalnoth vessel when they both attempt to scan the same nebula. The Chalnoth are attempting to gather data on the nebula, but the joint stubbornness of Captain Freeman and the Chalnoth captain means that negotiation is required to resolve the dispute.
That tracks with the general characterization of the Chalnoth from ‘Allegiance’, while also adding some additional depth to the race. Hopefully, audiences get to see the Chalnoth again at some point soon: there’s plenty of potential left to explore.
That’s it on the Chalnoth. For more on Star Trek, see our picks for the best Star Trek characters and check out our full breakdown of the Star Trek The Next Generation cast. Or, see what’s new on Paramount Plus this month, before swapping sci-fi franchises to see the status of Avatar 3.